Although I’m sick and tired of seeing Tiger’s mug on the TV and Internet, over the last couple weeks, I’ve found myself engaging in (even initiating) conversations about marriage and infidelity just about every chance I get. Everyone I speak with seems to agree that cheating is wrong, yet the book I’m reading right now claims that 25% of men and 15% of women cheat on their spouses at some point during marriage.
And I want to know, why are people doing it?
I’m not claiming to be some pious individual who has never cheated. I’ve been the cheater, I’ve been the other woman and I’ve been cheated on. But I’ve never been married—these indiscretions all involved other single people—and I think that matters tremendously.
I cannot imagine vowing to be faithful to someone until death, and then tossing that promise out the window for a few kicks or an ego boost. Maybe I am naïve. But I would like to think I would try to address whatever was making me consider other men—solve the problem—or separate or divorce my husband before ever shacking up with someone else.
I know it’s tough to end relationships. I know that even in the worst dating situations, sometimes it’s hard to turn away from months and years of semi-comfort to go out and find something new and better. I know there are tons of emotions involved, and in a lot of marriages there are children, which complicate things even more.
But I just can’t help but think that the inability to walk away or the audacity to be unfaithful is a direct reflection of broken self esteem. If you’re miserable in your marriage, why not sever the tie and find the relationship you know you deserve? If your husband or wife doesn’t make you feel sexy or macho or whatever it is, why not figure out a way to fix that instead of seeking it out somewhere else? Why create a scenario wherein you, your spouse and your “friend” could all get deeply hurt?
It’s also astounding to me how forgiving people, particularly women, are when they’ve been cheated on. Again, I have to wonder if this is a self esteem issue. Why would we allow someone to come back to us after they’ve so drastically disregarded our feelings? I remember being in that bargaining phase though…I remember feeling sorry for my Evil Ex and having moments where I thought maybe if he got counseling we could work everything out. But how could I not always wonder whether he’d do it again? How could we really be a solid, trusting couple after that?
It could be human nature to jump from relationship to relationship. Maybe we really are not meant for monogamy. But I sort of think then we should just do away with marriage as well.
What do you all think about cheating? Is it a fact of life that should just be accepted? Or is it the abominable act some think it is?
A friend at work sent me a link to this segment series on NPR’s This American Life. It’s pretty fascinating. And quite sad. Definitely worth the listen if you have time.